Well, the hype was fun while it lasted.
The Eagles were beaten by a better football team on Sunday, losing 17-11 to the 49ers in the Birds' home opener. It was a letdown after the Week 1 romp over the Falcons, and everyone is probably feeling a little reality hangover after today's loss.
Let's dive into what went wrong, and overreact a little bit:
1. Jalen Hurts needs to clean up the underthrows
Jalen Hurts had an electric Week 1, but his Week 2 performance vs. the 49ers left me wanting more.
He still used his feet to his advantage, he still made smart decisions and avoided crushing mistakes, and he still looks like a starting QB.
But he has to stop underthrowing guys.
Every Eagles QB has their flaw in the passing game, it seems. Wentz constantly overthrew his wideouts. McNabb constantly threw at their feet. For Hurts, his problem right now seems to be underthrowing these dudes, particularly on long balls.
It's weird that Hurts has struggled with underthrows considering his first play as the Eagles' QB last year was a deep ball to Jalen Reagor vs. the Packers. He's consistently shown a willingness to go long, so it's not like Hurts doesn't want to take those shots.
And it's also hard to get too worked up over the underthrows when he's also mixing in the dimes to Reagor, on the touchdown that was called back, and Watkins, on the 91-yarder:
But at least four of Hurts' incompletions came on long balls down the field that were simply underthrown, including one that would've been a touchdown to DeVonta Smith on the Eagles' first offensive drive of the game. He had time, he stepped up in the pocket, and he... just underthrew No. 6.
He did the same thing last week against the Falcons when he left a ball way short of Zach Ertz. Ertz still caught it for a 30-yard gain, but that could've been a 50-yard play if Ertz didn't have to collapse to the ground to make the catch.
It hasn't been back-breaking yet, and Hurts is still doing other stuff well right now, but underthrows can bite you in a hurry. He's got to clean 'em up. Now.
2. Nick Sirianni's fourth downs are starting to worry me
The Eagles are officially 0-for-3 on fourth downs this year, and I'm gonna need Nick Sirianni to get it together on that front.
I've largely been a fan of Sirianni's offense, and I've also liked almost all of his fourth down decisions, in terms of whether or not to go for it. It seems he's leaning on the numbers, while also taking game flow and specific situations into account. That part's been good.
But last week the Eagles failed to convert two fourth downs with iffy calls, and this week they bungle a first-and-goal (with all the juice on their side after the 91-yard completion to Quez Watkins) with a rough fourth down play. The call was a weird quasi-Philly Special where Greg Ward ended up launching the ball out the back of the end zone, instead of Sirianni simply letting his best guys make a play.
The rookie head coach has done a lot of things well through eight quarters, but he seems to overthink things on fourth down - the exact time when it pays to find an easy answer.
3. The Eagles aren't as good as we'd hoped after Week 1
This one's a little more big-picture, but Eagles fans everywhere were flying quite high after the Week 1 drubbing of the Falcons.
Did everyone know Atlanta is a pretty bad team? Sure, but it was a Week 1 road game and the Birds torched the Falcons. It was an impressive performance from a team with low expectations. It wasn't insane to think the Eagles might be better than we thought.
And I know the 49ers are a very good team, despite being banged up all over the place heading into this game...
...but we probably should chill on the "They're winning the division!" takes, because outside of the 91-yard completion and the too little, too late push at the end of the fourth quarter, that was a fairly uninspiring Week 2 performance.
The injuries to Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks didn't help matters, but the Eagles looked flat before those two left the game.
The second half in particular was juice-less from Nick Sirianni's team until that last push. The offense lost all the momentum it had following the win in Atlanta, often looking like they had no idea what the plan was. The defense got bulldozed on an eternal nine-plus minute drive for the 49ers' second touchdown of the afternoon - hard to blame them too much, but you've got to get a stop. Someone has to make a play.
And ultimately, no one made a play when it mattered for the Eagles, because they're a team full of young and promising players... but not exactly the kinds of playmakers you need to regularly win in the NFL just yet.
This is probably going to be an up-and-down season, full of highs when the young guys do some sick stuff and lows when we remember they aren't loaded with talent. The Eagles will be able to beat bad teams, and maybe even hang with solid teams.
But when they face good teams? There are gonna be a few rough afternoons in store for Birds fans this fall.
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